For the Science Fair, other kids would have test tubes, magnets, all sorts of things out on display; things they would use to conduct some sort of experiment to prove some sort of hypothesis. My projects were what I refer to as exclusively informational. The most ‘scientific’ thing about them was that they involved the path of least resistance.
For example, in Grade 3, I thought everybody should know a little something about rocks. And when I say a little something, I mean very little. And in Grade 5, after a bad Grade 4 experience (which I have yet to tell you about), I wasn’t going to let any outside influences shape my project for me. That year I decided to spread the word about chimpanzees. My parents could deny me my own pet chimp (which they did), but they couldn’t keep chimps out of my life. I don’t think they saw my project for the rebellious act it was meant to be.
But back to Grade 4…I went ahead and began to do my extensive ‘research’ on the heart. My main source of information was the ‘H’ volume of the Encyclopedia Britannica in our living room. But I went the extra mile and got a few more books out of the school library. All my sources said pretty much the same thing about the heart, so it turns out I didn’t really need to go that extra mile. I didn’t even need to leave home.
Using more than one source paid off though; it kept me from being the only kid in my class with a ‘List of Reference’. And I had to admit it looked much more impressive to have more than one book on my list.
So I sat down with my short stack of books in front of me and began my research. I read all about the four chambers of the heart, arteries and veins, as well as the circulation of blood and oxygen. Deciphering confusing diagrams that were explaining the direction of blood flow was no easy task. No, trying to understand it all was a lot of work; a lot more work than trying to understand rocks. This was not the path of least resistance and I did not like it one bit.
Shortlisted (excerpt): 14th Annual Surrey International Writers’ Conference Contest, 2006.